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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 11/30/21

Indian parliament votes to scrap controversial farm laws but farmers continue year-long protest

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Indian parliament on Monday voted to repeal the controversial farm laws that had triggered year-long protests by farmers. However, Farmers have refused to end protests until their other demands are also discussed.

Protesting farmers say the laws would lead to a corporate takeover of the vast agriculture sector, which is the largest source of livelihood in India and about 70 percent of rural households depend on it for a living.

Indian parliament had enacted these laws in September 2020 amid fierce protests by the opposition parties. At Monday's parliament session, the opposition parties blamed the government lawmakers of passing the bills without any discussion.

"3 Anti-Agriculture Laws were passed in Parliament without discussion amp; have been repealed without discussion," Randeep Singh Surjewala, a senior leader of the main opposition Indian National Congress party, wrote on Twitter.

Thousands of farmers from Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, and Rajasthan have been camping outside Delhi since November 26, 2020, demanding that the laws be withdrawn. The farmers say the laws will threaten their livelihoods and benefit large corporations and industrialists.

Farmers protest is one of the biggest challenges to Prime Minister Modi's extreme Hindu nationalist government since he came to power in 2014.

Farmer leader Rakesh Tikait on Monday said that farmers will not leave the protest site before discussions on the Minimum Support Price (MSP).

"It's a victory for farmers. We are happy the laws have been repealed," Harinder Happy, spokesman for Samyukt Kisan Morcha, a coalition of more than 40 farmers' unions, told Al Jazeera.

Happy said the farmers will not call off their protest and will now push for other demands, including minimum support prices (MSPs) for crops and compensation for the families of hundreds of farmers they said died during the protests.

"I don't think this government has any sympathy for farmers," Vishavjot Mann, who joined a weekend rally for agricultural workers in Mumbai, told the AFP news agency. "The government has just announced they will repeal the laws, not because they think that they were wrong but because they understand that these protests will hamper their election results," she added.

Tellingly, Modi's reversal came ahead of important elections for his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in states such as Uttar Pradesh and Punjab, both home to a large numbers of farmers.

If farmers desert the ruling party, it will not only shrink prospects to form a state government for a second term but also weaken chances for the party to get an overwhelming majority in the 2024 national elections.

Political analysts say these upcoming elections are a major reason behind the surprise move to withdraw the three farm laws, but that it is too early to say whether it will work.

The Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SMK), the umbrella body of farmers' unions that is spearheading the protests, has welcomed the scrapping of the controversial laws but sent a six demand letter to the Modi government:

1) MSP based on the comprehensive cost of production should be made a legal entitlement of all farmers for all agricultural produce so that every farmer of the country can be guaranteed the MSP announced by the government for their entire crop.

2) Withdraw the draft 'Electricity Amendments Bill, 2020/2021'.

3) Withdrawal of cases against farmers and building a memorial for the protesters who lost their lives during the agitation against the three contentious farm laws.

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Abdus-Sattar Ghazali Social Media Pages: Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

Author and journalist. Author of Islamic Pakistan: Illusions & Reality; Islam in the Post-Cold War Era; Islam & Modernism; Islam & Muslims in the Post-9/11 America. Currently working as free lance journalist. Executive Editor of American (more...)
 
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